Burkina Faso expels three French diplomats for 'subversive activities'

(Reuters) -Burkina Faso's military government has expelled three French diplomats for alleged subversive activities, the Burkina foreign ministry said in a letter seen by Reuters on Thursday.

The French foreign ministry rejected the allegation and said it regretted the decision to expel its diplomats and staff.

"We reject the unfounded accusations made by the Burkina Faso authorities against our staff," it said in a statement.

The three people, two of whom were listed as political advisers, were declared persona non grata and given 48 hours to leave the country, according to the letter dated April 16, which was addressed to the French embassy.

It did not elaborate on what they were accused of.

One source with direct knowledge of the situation, who asked not to be named, said the diplomats were expelled because of meetings that they had with civil society members.

The West African country is run by a military junta that seized power in a coup in 2022, leading to a breakdown in relations with its former colonial ruler France.

Ouagadougou has since kicked out French troops, pushed France to recall its ambassador, and suspended some French media.

Burkina Faso's junta has drawn criticism from international rights groups for cracking down on freedom of speech and intimidating critics as it struggles to contain a security crisis caused by militants linked to Al Qaeda and Islamic State.

(Additional reporting by Geert de ClercqWriting by Nellie PeytonEditing by Angus MacSwan and Frances Kerry)